Startup Scaleup 2018 Speaker: Diversity Needed In Entrepreneur Ranks

Entrepreneurs who don’t look like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg often ask venture capitalist Monique Woodard if they will have a harder time getting funding because they are female, a person of color or older than 40.

“I say, you don’t have any choice, do you?” Woodard said Tuesday to an audience at Startup Scaleup, the fourth-annual business event for entrepreneurs. “You’re still going to be black, be a woman, be the age you are.”

She advises those business founders to keep pursuing their ideas and find allies and mentors willing to help.

Woodard spoke on a Startup Scaleup panel titled “How Diverse Founders and Investors are Changing Startup Culture,” one of several sessions that went on during the day-long conference at venues throughout the Gordon Square Arts District on Cleveland’s West Side. The event was sponsored by JumpStart.

Woodard, who advocates for African-American and female entrepreneurs, has advised and invested in major startup companies with minority founders, including Blavity, Mented Cosmetics, and Silvernest.

Hundreds attended Startup Scaleup panels that covered topics such as brick-and-mortar retail, social media, franchise opportunities, company cultures and more. Featured speakers included Gerri Kahnweiler, founding partner of InvestHER Ventures in Chicago; Kris Beck, COO of Proformex; and Hannah Fleishman, inbound recruiting manager at HubSpot in Boston.

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